News / Science & Technology

    Google Technology Powers Online Effort to Catch World's Forest Killers

    Online Watchdog Allows for Real-Time Forest Protectioni
    X
    February 26, 2014 8:35 PM
    The world's trees is disappearing at an alarming rate - 2.5 million square kilometers since 2000 - or the equivalent of 50 soccer fields a minute. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports a powerful forest management computer tool has been designed to access reliable real time information to stem those losses and target criminal activity.
    Online Watchdog Allows for Real-Time Forest Protection
    Rosanne Skirble
    A powerful new online forest monitoring system is the latest tool in the fight against deforestation.

    The world's tree cover is disappearing at an alarming rate - 2.5 million square kilometers since 2000, the equivalent of 50 football [soccer] fields every minute of every day - because of fire, illegal logging and land gobbled up by farms, mining and oil operations. By the time these activities are discovered, it is often too late to do anything about them, much less determine who is at fault.

    Enter Global Forest Watch, created by the World Resources Institute and 40 partner groups. WRI president Andrew Steer says it's a game changer.

    “It is possible to bring for the first time ever really, real-time data at a very local level to everybody in the world," he said. "And that is what Global Forest Watch is all about.”
    This Sept. 15, 2009 file photo shows a deforested area near Novo Progresso in Brazil's northern state of Para.Deforestation in the tropics is increasing by 2,000 square kilometers a year with half that loss in Brazil and Indonesia.This Sept. 15, 2009 file photo shows a deforested area near Novo Progresso in Brazil's northern state of Para.Deforestation in the tropics is increasing by 2,000 square kilometers a year with half that loss in Brazil and Indonesia.
    The program embeds key information into high resolution satellite images in a simple-to-use interactive website, says WRI’s Nigel Sizer, who heads the initiative.

    “If you can use a Google map to find a friend’s house, then you can use Global Forest Watch to understand what is happening to forests in your community, across your country or even on the other side of the world and then take action,” Sizer said.

    Mapping supply chains

    Deforestation in the tropics is increasing by about 2,000 square kilometers a year according to WRI, with half that loss in Brazil and Indonesia.

    Sizer says Global Forest Watch can help slow that down.

    “It allows the government to focus their enforcement efforts in areas where illegal forest clearing is taking place," he said.
    The border between Malaysia and Indonesia stands out in the Landsat-based map of forest disturbance. Red pixels represent forest loss between 2000 and 2012.The border between Malaysia and Indonesia stands out in the Landsat-based map of forest disturbance. Red pixels represent forest loss between 2000 and 2012.
    International companies like Nestles and Unilever have pledged not use raw materials for their products that contribute to deforestion.

    "They are saying, 'We are going to use Global Forest Watch so that we know which of our suppliers are doing a good job and which ones are doing a bad job,'" Sizer said.

    NASA has been collecting high-resolution satellite images of the earth since 1973, and when it made the archive public in 2008, it gave scientists the ability to assess changes in the Earth's landscape.

    For Global Forest Watch, Google deployed the computing power of its Earth Engine technology to turn the latest 12 years of data into an interactive map, easily available to everyone everywhere. What would have taken a single computer 15 years, took Google just a couple of days.

    Powered by Google

    Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine manager Rebecca Moore says the aim is to bridge an information gap.

    “The science exists. The data exists, but the amount of data that is required, satellite image data, to actually have an accurate detailed current picture of the world’s forests; it is quadrillions of pixels," Moore said. "It is billions of megabytes of data. No one has ever been able to store, much less analyze, that data before.”

    LISTEN: TV Google Technology Powers Online Effort to Catch World's Forest Killers
    TV Google Technology Powers Online Effort to Catch World's Forest Killersi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    The satellite images are so detailed, it is possible to determine whether a section of forest has been logged, burned or felled by disease. Moore says users can take pictures of what happens on the ground and add to the database.

    "You can follow the license plate on that truck with the illegal logs on the Trans Amazon Highway," she said. "That automatically can get uploaded into Global Forest Watch and support law enforcement."

    Moore calls the potential of the combining the satellite images with the ground reality, all powered by the Internet, "unprecedented.”

    Empowering indigenous people

    No one hungers for this information more than Ecuadoran Juan Carlos Jintiach, who coordinates dialogue among native peoples and governments in nine Amazon basin countries. He says what they learn from Global Forest Watch will advance that conversation.

    “It is a simple way to share our voice and histories," Jintiach said. "For the first time, using Global Forest Watch, we can easily upload alerts and photos for the entire world to see when encroachment happens in our forests and to monitor those lands in real time.”

    Jintiach says the next step is to mobilize people to put the new tool to work to protect the world’s forests before it is too late.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.